Poultry Keeping brings fortune into the life of a Nyeri Woman – Success story of Peninah Macharia
Poultry Keeping: Mt Kenya Star correspondent Malachi Motano meets Peninah Macharia who livers with her family at Embassy area in Nyeri County. The 51 years old resigned from Kenya Planters Cooperative Union (KPCU) to venture into poultry keeping and shares her journey of success in a question (Q) and answer (A) interview. Q: Thank you so much for your time out of a busy schedule A: You are most welcome and feel free to listen to my story of hope maybe be those who will read my story will encouraged to walk their dream. Q: From formal employment to keeping chicken, describe the paradigm shift A: By the way, I only worked for three days and during the short stint at the company, I had difficulties in keeping time, thanks to the traffic jam in the busy capital city among other challenges, which only earned me criticism and harsh words from her bosses. Q: I can’t understand how, in this harsh economic time coupled with under employment
A: It is the unsympathetic treatment by my superiors that prompted me to detest the thought of ever being employed, yearned to be my own boss and subsequently travelled to my home in Nyeri where I had intended to set up a business.
Q: And so, what kind of business did you intend to do in the rural
A:I initially intended to sell second hand or new clothes but I decided otherwise as starting such a business required a big capital which I did not have. I badly needed money and therefore wanted to venture into a business that could quickly generate some cash as we had children in school, who needed food and school fees.
Q: Where otherwise means…….
A: I mean poultry and since my biggest hiccup was lack of capital, I visited a commercial bank and borrowed Kshs. 20,000 with which I used to start a poultry keeping project in 1996. I constructed a mud walled with 50 broiler chicks house at Kiamwathi in the outskirts of Nyeri town which upon maturity I sold in local hotels, before relocating with my family to Embassy area, along the border of Nyeri Town and Kieni Constituency.
Q: Why broilers
A: I resolved to keep broilers as they mature quickly unlike layers which require more time before they can start laying eggs though I had a challenge in selling the chicken locally since only a small number of birds were ordered while payment would at times be delayed for some time which negatively affected the sustainability of the project.
Q: Every challenge comes with an opportunity
A: Yes, but it was until later that I was introduced to a customer at the city market in Nairobi where I still sell the birds.
Q: Describe this turning point
A: I had traveled for a party in Nairobi and fed on chicken. I got curious on where they sourced the chicken and requested whether I could be supplying them with some. My sister introduced me to a potential buyer who later became a regular customer to whom I have been selling the chickens since.The good thing with the client was that she could pay me cash upon delivery which greatly helped me sustain and expand the business.
Q: Any reflection
A:Looking back, I do not regret having ventured into the business. I earn good money than what I could be earning from former job.
Q: Any growth, I mean from Kshs. 20,000 a mud wall house with 50 broiler chicks
A: Let me put it as expansion. I have managed to upgrade the chicken structure from a mud walled structure to the current one built using timber and iron sheet roofing, which today can cost over Ksh 75,000 to construct.
Q: Describe it in terms of number of chickens, costs and profit
A:Today, I keep between 1,500 to 2,000 chickens depending with orders placed. To ensure I meet the demand Introduce them in flocks of 500 in every three weeks. My production cost for 500 hens is Kshs. 150,000.
Q: What is the cost of one chicken
A:Currently, I sell them between Ksh 250 to 280 per kilo as the prices keep on changing depending on supply. But I am able to earn between Ksh 92,000 to Ksh138,000 in profit after selling the whole flock. With proper feeding, broilers are usually ready for the market after six weeks.
Q: Any other development
A: I have also invested in a hatchery that can accommodate 1,000 eggs where I hatches Saso, Kenbro and Kuroiler chicks and sell to local farmers. I also keeps Kienyeji Kuku Afya which Isay lays eggs continuously but do not sit on them to hatch.
Q: Any challenge along the way
A:The venture has not been without downsides. Things have changed over time and the cost of feed and chicks have continued to rise.When I first started the venture, a single chick would go for Ksh 30 but has since risen to Ksh 60 today, while a sack of feed that retailed at an average of Ksh 1,200 today goes for Ksh 3,000.
Q: What about selling, how much did one chicken cost
A:When I first started the enterprise, I sold the chicken at Ksh 180 a kilo, meaning a chicken weighing about one and a half kilo would go for Ksh 240.
Q: What about their, has the quality been maintained or improved
A:Quality of some animal feeds in the market is also wanting as some dealers tamper with their quality. When chicks are fed with such feeds of poor quality, they take more time to gain the required weight which translates to loss to a farmer.
Q:Last but not least even as we conclude. As a wife and a mother, what is the impact of the business on your family
A:I was also able to assist my husband who has been very supportive in the construction of our new residential house in Embassy in the outskirts of Nyeri town where we moved to.Through the venture, I have managed to educate two of my children through secondary school in Kenya before they joined form five and six in Uganda.
Q: That calls for celebration …….…….
Q: (with happiness all over her face) One of them proceeded to join Makerere University. Other than my own children, I also managed to educate my cousin’s child.I could send them to school without fees then place a call to the director in Uganda pledging to send the money at a certain date. I could then buy chicks and by the sixth week I would sell them and make enough money to pay the said fees and at the exact date.
Q: Where are they today
A:After school, the two children later left the country to work abroad where I also paid for their return ticket, moneyfor their upkeep among other needs while in Asia all at a total cost of Ksh. 440,000.